German Chancellor Angela Merkel told leaders of her conservatives on Monday that she will not seek re-election as party chairwoman, senior party sources said, heralding the end of a 13-year era in which she has dominated European politics.
Merkel, 64, has been chairwoman of her conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) since 2000 and chancellor since 2005. Party sources said Merkel wants to remain chancellor until 2021, when the next federal election is due.
The announcement, which effectively accelerates the process for the CDU to settle on and groom Merkel’s successor, caused the euro to fall briefly and German government bond yields rose.
Stepping down as CDU chairwoman would further undermine Merkel’s authority, which has already been dented this year by two regional election setbacks and a close ally losing his role as leader of her conservatives’ parliamentary group.
Merkel has loomed large on the European stage since 2005, helping guide the EU through the euro zone crisis and opening Germany’s doors to migrants fleeing war in the Middle East in 2015 – a move that still divides the bloc and Germany.
“We are witnessing a continuation of the pattern in place ever since Merkel’s mistakes in the 2015 migration crisis: the gradual but steady erosion of her political power,” said Carsten Nickel, managing director at Teneo, a consultancy.
“Rather than outright instability in Germany and Europe, it simply means a continuation of the current leadership vacuum.”
Monday’s news came as a surprise to CDU party officials, who had expected Merkel to seek re-election as chairwoman at a party congress in Hamburg in early December.
The shock move started the race in the CDU to succeed Merkel. It also raises questions about whether she can stage manage a smooth exit.
Merkel is under pressure from her Social Democrat coalition partners to deliver more policy results and the center-left party could yet pull out of the government at a mid-term review next year.
Germany’s other leader CDU chancellors – Konrad Adenauer and Helmut Kohl – both had messy ends to their time in office.
Merkel standing down from the party chair would allow a new CDU chairman or chairwoman to build a profile before the next national election.
Party sources said Merkel’s favored successor, CDU party secretary general Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, had announced her candidacy for the party chair.
Party sources also said that Friedrich Merz, a former parliamentary leader of Merkel’s conservative alliance, was ready to put himself forward for the CDU chairmanship.
Merkel’s weakness at home may limit her capacity to lead in the European Union at a time when the bloc is dealing with Brexit, a budget crisis in Italy and the prospect of populist parties making gains at European parliament elections next May.
When Merkel came into office in 2005, George W. Bush was U.S. president, Jacques Chirac was in the Elysee Palace in Paris and Tony Blair was British prime minister.
Her decision comes on the heels of a second electoral setback in as many weeks for Merkel’s conservative alliance. In a vote in the western state of Hesse on Sunday, the CDU came out top but lost 11 percentage points in support compared to the last election in 2013.
“With these latest results, it has simply become untenable that Merkel continues to lead the CDU,” said Mujtaba Rahman, managing director at Eurasia Group, a consultancy.
UN Says 10 Children Among 13 Killed By US Air Strike In Afghanistan
The United Nations has on Monday confirmed that ten children, part of the same extended family, were killed by a US air strike in Afghanistan, along with three adult civilians.
The deadly attack occurred early Saturday near the capital city of volatile Kunduz province a northern province where the Taliban is strong where Afghan and U.S. forces were conducting a joint operation against Taliban insurgents.
Sgt. Debra Richardson, spokeswoman for the NATO-led Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, confirmed on Sunday that US forces carried out the air strike. She said the mission aims to prevent civilian casualties, while the Taliban intentionally hides among civilians.
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in releasing its preliminary findings about the incident. UNAMA said in a statement that it is verifying that all 13 civilian casualties occurred around the time of the air strike.
U.S. officials confirmed the killing of two service members and carrying out an airstrike in the area, accusing the Taliban of using civilian areas as hideouts.
The strike which happened between late Friday and early Saturday is to support the pro-government forces on ground fighting against the Taliban militants in the area. The ensuing clashes have killed two American soldiers and several local commando forces, prompting the U.S. military to launch the airstrike
Seven Wounded As Gaza Rocket Strikes Home In Central Israel
Seven people were wounded early Monday morning after a rocket allegedly fired from Gaza Strip stuck a house in central Israel prompting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cut short his visit to Washington and return to Israel after his meeting with President Donald Trump.
The Israel Defense Forces said that the rocket, which struck a home in the community of Mishmeret, was fired from a Hamas position in the area of Rafah in the southern Strip, some 120 kilometers from where it struck. It said the rocket was manufactured by the group.
Israel’s ambulance service said it treated seven people overall, including two women who were moderately wounded. The others, including two children and an infant, had minor wounds.
Israel has also closed the Erez and Kerem Shalom border crossings into the Strip.
Netanyahu said that Israel “will respond forcefully” to the rocket fire and that he was returning “to manage our operations up close.”
Teacher From Remote Kenya Village Is World’s Best, Wins $1 Million
A maths and physics teacher from rural Kenya who donates most of his salary to help poorer students has won the $1m Global Teacher Prize for 2019 beating 10,000 nominations from 179 countries.
36-year-old, Peter Tabichi, a science teacher at Keriko secondary school in Pwani Village, in a remote village in Kenya’s Rift Valley, Tabichi, a member of the Franciscan religious order, who gives away 80 percent of his salary to support poor students, received the prize at a ceremony on Saturday in Dubai, hosted by Hollywood actor Hugh Jackman.
“Every day in Africa we turn a new page and a new chapter, this prize does not recognise me but recognises this great continent’s young people. I am only here because of what my students have achieved,” Tabichi said.
In a society where drug abuse, teenage pregnancies, dropping out early from school, young marriages and suicide are common while over 90% of his pupils are from poor families and almost a third are orphans or have only one parent, students have to walk 7km along roads that can become impassable in the rainy season to reach the school.
- UN Says 10 Children Among 13 Killed By US Air Strike In Afghanistan March 25, 2019
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